Signum Quartett - No. 3
Believing that an elaborate construction of the score and beauty of sound stand in each other’s way is a myth rooted in the 18th century. What links Beethoven and Schubert to the generation of composers around 1900 is their quest for a new sound at a time that the genre of the string quartet seemed to have reached the end of its development.
‘One thing is certain,’ Schoenberg commented about Alban Bergs Op.3, ‘that his string quartet has surprised me unbelievably with the wealth and freedom of its musical diction, the energy and assuredness of its presentation, its meticulous elaboration and its remarkable originality.’
Unlike Berg, who developed his form of atonality as a radicalized continuation of tonality, Béla Bartók’s style resulted from a return to the folk music of South-East Europe. Bartók’s six string quartets show these changes as in a mirror. He wrote the String Quartet No. 3 in Budapest in 1927, at a time when he was discovering the characteristic severity of his musical diction.
A third route in the quest for a new sound was taken by Alfred Schnittke, born in the German enclave on the Volga in 1934. His course is characterized less by radicalism than by reconciliation. Schnittke’s so-called polystylism employs as a matter of course direct or alienated stylistic quotations from bygone centuries, embedding them in a modern and atonal context.